Pastoral Danger Zone #5 – You are lonely.
The highway sign reads: Loneliness makes you a target for temptation, lowers your resistance to impurities, and weakens your resolve. Get over it quickly.
Criminologists tells us that no one ever commits a crime without first justifying it. I suspect that those in the Lord’s work who step across the lines of fidelity in marriage excuse what they are doing with protestations of loneliness.
You may be lonely. No one is saying otherwise. There is a great deal of unhappiness and even loneliness in many a marriage. And yet, that does not justify breaking the marriage vow.
In his book “The Myth of the Greener Grass,” Peterson reminds us that Satan’s lies are directed toward good people to entice us to do wrong from good intentions.
This is not the place to go into all the cures for loneliness in marriage, but our point is that this condition makes the man or woman of God vulnerable to temptation and enticement.
Someone told me recently of a minister who lost his pastorate, his family, and all the esteem he had built up over the years by an affair with a woman he was counseling. “What was stunning about this,” my friend said, “was that the woman was a notorious adulterer. The pastor knew full well what she was and still gave up everything for her.”
Loneliness makes one so vulnerable. Be aware. Stay alert. Stay on your knees.
Pastoral Danger Zone #6 – You are stressed.
The sign beside the road reads: Stress is a killer. Marital stress, financial stress, internal church stress–all are signals that the bridge could be out on your highway. Slow down and pay close attention.
In the cartoon, the older woman tells the young one, “Stress is not par for the course, dear. It is the course.”
Stress is just another word for the pressures that close in upon us. We all have them. The only person without some kind of stress in his/her life is now resting comfortably in the cemetery.
Every marriage encounters stress. Every human has to deal with financial stress at one time or the other. And in churchwork, stress comes in truckloads–people conflicts, schedule conflicts, money problems, doctrinal clashes, personal disagreements, denominational warfare, the list is endless.
By itself, stress is not bad. It’s a given. It’s always going to be there. As the TV character said, “It’s always something.” Yes it is.
When you wish to build a muscle, you put stress on it. When God wants to build His children, He allows us to go through stressful times. The plan is that they will press us in closer to Him and emerge stronger than when they entered.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes (Ps. 119:71).